By Kelly Cave
With cities, stores, public spaces, and offices around the world shutting down amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are all finding ourselves more isolated than usual. A major negative side effect of the CDC’s recommended practice of social distancing includes feelings of isolation and a lack of connection to our family, friends, and coworkers. Isolation is the exact opposite of what evolution has hard-wired us to do because humans are naturally social beings. Years of research has shown time and time again that social isolation has detrimental effects on our metal health and overall wellbeing. In times of stress, we find comfort in seeking out and supporting one another, which is typically done in-person. However, this in-person contact is the exact opposite of what the CDC recommends us to do in order to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.
Therefore, it is important now more than ever before, to ensure we are still finding ways to socially connect during these difficult times. Social connectedness includes feelings of belongingness and connection with other human beings. Fortunately, these feelings can still be fostered while still taking precautions and practicing social distancing. There are a number of creative ways to facilitate social connectedness; a few examples include:
• Continue to reach out to your manager and coworkers. Just as people tend to physically stop by a manager or coworker’s office to ask them a question or say hello, continue to do this while working from home. This may include an instant message on an internal communication platform, a text, or a call.
• Build time into your daily schedule for social activities with coworkers. Just because everyone is working from home doesn’t mean you cannot facilitate time together. Instead of congregating in the break room, consider taking planned lunch breaks together via phone or video chats.
• Create a group chat with coworkers, family, or friends. Use the group chat as an opportunity to share updates and ask how everyone is doing.
• Reach out individually to friends and family via text, phone call, or video chat to ask how they are doing and let them know you are thinking of them.
Although technology can’t replace the feeling of in-person human contact, it can aid in our feelings of connectedness during these times of isolation. As always, continue to educate yourself on emerging information and follow all CDC guidelines and recommendations when making any decisions regarding COVID-19.